Principal from 1923 - 1943
Constance Barrett and her mother, Caroline Barrett, founded Kilvington in 1923. Establishing a school at any time would be incredibly difficult, but the odds of its success would seem to have been insurmountable considering the economy at the time and the family's lack of wealth. Constance and her mother's vision, energy and commitment made this dream a reality.
In 1922, Constance answered an advertisement to tutor a group of children in Ormond. The advertisement was placed by Mrs Phyllis Fethers, after whom the house Fethers is named. Local parents wanted to start a school for their children, but because Constance wasn't a registered teacher, she convinced her mother, Caroline Barrett, who was sixty at the time, to establish a school of her own in Ormond.
This had been a lifelong dream of Caroline's and, despite being sixty years of age, she took up the challenge. In 1923 the Ormond Girls' School was established in the Church of England Parish Hall in Ormond.
The original number of enrolments was 13, two of whom were boys. Over the next five years the numbers quickly grew and the school was forced to move to larger premises to accommodate the growth. It soon became evident that a permanent site was required.
At the age of twenty-one, Constance bought land for £500 and was able to negotiate a bank loan for £2,200 to build a school – a remarkable feat, considering that it was then extremely rare for women to be granted a loan. The amount Constance was able to borrow is even more remarkable, considering she was young, single and living in uncertain economic times: by today's standards, £2,200 converts to approximately $1 million.
In 1929 the School was renamed 'Kilvington Girls' Grammar' and opened at the Walsh Street site on 18 May. The students were asked to submit designs for a badge and consulted about a school motto. Constance was responsible for the resulting design of the crest and hatband. Both Constance and Caroline developed the School motto, with Constance choosing the Chevron – the symbol of service – as part of the logo.
In her opening speech, Caroline addressed the parents, saying: "the school should not be looked upon merely as a machine for grinding out knowledge but to mould and build the character of the girls and teach them that honour and truth should come first in their lives."
The school steadily grew in popularity and even during the early Depression years enrolments were still increasing. Many other private schools at the time were looking to the churches to buy them as denominational schools. 1932 was a landmark year for Kilvington when the first three students completed their intermediate studies. 1932 also saw the first issue of Kilvington's yearbook, The Kilvonian. By 1934 Caroline's health was fading and she passed the reins of the school to the capable hands of Miss Muriel Fysh.
Caroline and Constance Barrett were certainly women of character. They were dedicated to the education of girls and possessed great strength of spirit – two qualities that have been evident through every decade of Kilvington's growth, qualities that have helped form our character as a school.